Lockheed Martin ends support of Boy Scouts over ban on gay leaders

The Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay leaders is losing the organization more money -- this time from Maryland.

This week, Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, one of the largest private employers in the state, announced it will no longer provide philanthropic support to the Boy Scouts because of the nonprofit organization's "policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and religious affiliation."

Lockheed Martin announced its decision in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. The same statement was shared with The Baltimore Sun on Thursday.

“Lockheed Martin is committed to building strong partnerships with non-profit organizations that value diversity and align with our policies. And we believe engaging with and funding an organization that openly discriminates is in conflict with our policies," read the statement from spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Lockheed Martin follows other large companies that have cut their giving to the Boy Scouts in recent years over its controversial ban on gays among its ranks. The companies include some that had been among the Boy Scouts' largest donors, like the United Parcel Service (UPS) and the Intel Foundation.

Gay kids will be allowed in the Boy Scouts for the first time starting this January, after the organization's national council voted to lift its longstanding ban on gay scouts in May. But that decision does not apply to gay troop leaders, who are still banned from participating in the organization.

Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman, said the organization appreciates Lockheed Martin's past support and respects its right to see the issue differently.

“While not a national sponsor, Lockheed Martin has positively impacted America's youth through its support of Scouting in local communities and we are grateful for that support," Smith said in a statement. "We respect the company's right to express its own opinion and appreciate its recognition that Scouting is a valuable organization. Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good.”

Lockheed Martin, a government contractor known for its fighter jets, has a record of supporting LGBT diversity among its ranks. "Diversity and inclusion are woven throughout our culture and reflect our values of doing what's right, respecting others and performing with excellence," it's website says.

The company has a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Leadership Forum and is a sponsor of the Maryland Corporate Council, a LGBT business and corporate networking organization in the state. The company also just made the Human Rights Campaign's 2014 "Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality" list.

The company did not say how much support it has provided the Boy Scouts in the past, nor whether it is cutting philanthropic support to other organizations.

The company has been cutting its workforce in recent years amid reductions in military spending.

Johndroe, in his statement, said officials at Lockheed Martin "applaud the mission of the Boy Scouts and the good things they do in our communities," but the company is "taking a close look" at all the organizations it supports "to ensure they align with our company's core values."

He also said, "We were pleased to see the organization revise its membership policy, but feel the continued ban on gay leadership conflicts with our Corporation’s values."

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